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PCB Etching Using Toner Transfer Method 

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PCB Etching Using Toner 

Transfer Method 

Written By: Robot Platform 



• Clothes lron(1) 

• Copper Board (1) 

Electronic or Hand Driller (1) 

• Laser printer (1) 

Fine Drill Bits (0.5mm and 1mm) (1) 

Fine sandpaper or Kitchen Scrubber (1) 

• Hacksaw (1) 

• Muriatic Acid / Hydrochloric Acid (HCU 


• Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) (1) 

• Thinner / Acetone (1) 

• Plastic container (1) 

• Circuit diagram (1) 


What is the fun in making robots if you can't make your own circuit boards? This PCB 
etching tutorial describes a step-by-step process to MAKE your own circuit board. There are 
many tutorials already available on etching. Each method uses different materials and I have 
used hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide. Did you read acid? Be careful. If you are 

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PCB Etching Using Toner Transfer Method 

cautious, you can expect great results. If you abuse these chemicals, they might turn 

For a detailed tutorial with more pictures including a video tutorial, go here . 

Step 1 — Introduction to PCB etching using laser printer 

• 9 



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• Etching is a technique used to quickly make professional looking PCB's with limited 
resources. This technique is excellent for both through-hole components and surface- 
mount devices, and the copper tracks can be as thin as 8mil to 10mil. 

Step 2 — Paper Selection 

• Glossy photo-quality paper can be 
used for etching. I have always 
succeeded in using glossy 
magazine sheets which are cheap 
and widely available. Just make 
sure that the sheet is glossy and 

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PCB Etching Using Toner Transfer Method 

Step 3 — Printer Selection & Setup 

• Use a laser printer as inkjet 
printers are almost useless for this 

• Set the printer to its highest toner 
output, i.e., set the printer to print 
with highest contrast possible. 

• Once everything is set, print your 
favorite circuit on the glossy paper. 

Step 4 — Preparing the copper board 


• A normal copper board available in 
your radio shop should be good for 
this task. 

• Use a kitchen scrubber or a fine 
sandpaper and sand the copper. Do 
not overdo it. 

• Never over-scrub it such 
that you remove the entire 
copper layer. 

• Clean the surface with a cloth. Do 
not touch the surface once the 
cleaning is done. 

• If you are you are using a double 
sided copper board, then be sure to 
scrub the other side as well. This 
will speed up the etching process 
of the other side. 

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PCB Etching Using Toner Transfer Method 

Step 5 — Transferring Toner from Paper to Board 

• Now that the board and the print are ready, switch on your clothes iron to the maximum 
heat and leave it for a minute or two. 

• Align the printed paper on the copper board with the printed side over the board. 

• Applying a bit of pressure, carefully move the iron on the paper for 2 - 3 minutes. 

• If you have long lines in your PCB, they tend to not get transfered completely. Bolster the 
lines on your copper board. 

• To bolster the line, you can trace that line with a sharpie or a paint pen(works better), if 
you have a black electrical tape, you can use that as well. Cut it really thin(as thick 
as the line) and cover the line with the tape. 

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PCB Etching Using Toner Transfer Method 

Step 6 

• Etching Process 

• Drop the board into water and carefully peel off the paper and you should see the print on 
the board. If the paper does not peel off easily, remove it by rubbing it slightly. 

• Prepare the etching solution with hydrogen peroxide and hydrochloric acid in a ratio of 3:2. 

• Gloves and eye protection are recommended! 


• Drop the board into the solution and wait for a couple of seconds. 

• When the fine tracks are clearly visible and the unwanted copper removed, take the board 
out and clean it in water. 

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PCB Etching Using Toner Transfer Method 

Step 7 — Removing Toner from Board 

• Removing the toner is a simple 
task. If you have any acetone- or 
alcohol-based products, then use 
one of them to rub off the toner 
from the board. 

• Methanol is slightly more acidic 
than water. Don't apply methanol 
for the last solution. 

• I used deodorant and a toothbrush 
which was readily available and .... 
wow... it worked like magic. 

• To prevent copper from going bad, 
you can apply anti-rust to the PCB. 

Step 8 — Drilling 

• Etching is done and you have a 
printed circuit board in hand. 

• To add components, use a driller 
and drill tiny circular holes 
wherever necessary. This is to 
plug in those electronic 

• Drill bits are really tiny. 
Handle them with care. 

• Some people drill before they take 
the toner off the copper. 

• Get a mask if you can, drilling 
makes many tiny particles. 

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PCB Etching Using Toner Transfer Method 

Step 9 — Adding Components & Soldering 

• You are done. Plug in those electronic components and solder them. 

• You can also run the solder across those copper tracks to avoid oxidation. 

Etching is an easy technique and once you are good with it, I'm sure you will say goodbye to 
wires and perfboards. Try it out and let me know if you succeed. 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 0-30 10:1 9:05 PM. 

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